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Iran and Israel Find Common Ground Through Meatless Monday Campaign

Despite their vast foreign policy differences, a Meatless Monday campaign seems to be the only issue Iran and Israel can agree on. That's right, the Middle Eastern country known for kababs and veal is hoping to cut meat out of people's diets one Monday at a time. And Israel, with its Monday campaign founded almost a year ago, is also working to spread the word throughout the Middle East.

Meatless Monday Iran created their Facebook page two weeks ago, and last Monday was their first official Meatless Monday. Currently only 37 people like the page, but we expect that to climb.

See also: Five Reasons to Eat "Mindful Meat" on Mondays Instead

Founded in October 2012, Meatless Monday Israel has over 3,535 likes on Facebook, and according to the Program Development & Research Director for The Monday Campaigns, Morgan Johnson, the two countries have been working closely with Meatless Monday offices in New York to spread the word in the Middle East.

"The concept of Meatless Monday has even proven to be a unifying force for otherwise unlikely allies: Israel and Iran are two of our closest international partners," Johnson explains to Clean Plate Charlie. "Iran in particular demonstrates the positive impact Meatless Monday can have beyond health and environment by using the campaign to reduce feelings of isolation as it connects its population to the global network of Meatless Monday participants."

The consumption of meat in Iran has increased 60% since 2005. According to a study conducted by an Iranian University in 2012, there is a tendency towards red meat because of cultural and historical beliefs, as well a lack of food diversity in the region.

Fearing the effects of these increasing meat trends on human health and the environment, the Omega Research Team (ORT) has introduced Meatless Monday to the country. Based in Tehran, ORT is comprised of government and private food and nutrition agencies joining together to reduce meat intake in Iran and the Middle East by 15%.

"The involvement of so many countries and diverse populations in the movement speaks to the universal appeal of Meatless Monday despite our differences in culture and diets," Johnson says. "Our international partners join for many reasons, from a desire to reduce negative health effects of consuming too much meat to wanting to reduce the impact of meat production on our global environments."

With a focus on roasted vegetables and meatless stew, their version of the vegetarian meal plan will vary considerably from that in our neck of the woods, which tends to me more soy-based. There are over 25 countries that have joined the Meatless Monday campaign after it began in America in 2003, proving that vegetarianism isn't limited to Western culture.

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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson

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